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Moroccans hold vigils outside embassies

December 23, 2018

Across Morocco, hundreds of people held vigils in memory of the murdered Scandinavian backpackers. The two Norwegian and Danish students were killed by suspected jihadis in the Atlas Mountains.

Flowers, candles and messages are laid during a vigil outside the Norwegian embassy in Rabat
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/M. Elshamy

Moroccans held vigils on Saturday night for the two murdered Scandinavian backpackers.

Crowds gathered outside the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Rabat to mourn the two women who were killed in the Atlas Mountains. Authorities have said they were killed by four people with links to the "Islamic State" group who then posted a shocking video of the killing online.

Hundreds of people bought flowers and shed tears for 28-year-old Norwegian Maren Ueland and 24-year-old Dane Louisa Vesterager Jespersen. Mourners, joined by politicians, came to condemn the violence and religious extremism.

"Words cannot describe this barbaric crime," said Khalil Bensalmi, in his fifties, who bought his two daughters. "This doesn't at all represent Moroccan society or its pacifist culture."

Ratiba Naji, a housewife, said: "It's horrendous. These girls deserve life. Their parents must be devastated. I am sorry."

Read more: Morocco backpacker murder video 'authentic' says Norway

Moroccans gather during a candlelight vigil outside the Norwegian embassy in Rabat
Vigils were held in Rabat, Marrakesh and ImlilImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/M. Elshamy

'Deeply touched'

The group first assembled outside the Norwegian Embassy, where they read a letter in memory of the women and held a tearful moment of silence. They then moved on to the Danish Embassy where candles were lit in honor of the students.

"I am deeply touched by the kind reactions of the Moroccan people after the tragic event," the Norwegian ambassador to Morocco said in a statement. The Danish ambassador also thanked the people of Morocco.

Hundreds of people also turned out for a vigil in the southern village of Imlil, near where their bodies were found, as well as in the tourist hub of Marrakesh.

The suspected jihadi killings have shaken the tourism-reliant country, which has largely avoided terrorist incidents.

Read more: Two backpackers killed in Morocco, suspect arrested

aw/sms (AP, Reuters, AFP)

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